Now that I've powered through three kids, lived and learned, I have a few words of wisdom to help keep keep your baby safe in the summer and ensure that the summer is still fun for you too!
Days of floating aimlessly in cool waters may be numbered for a year or so. However, you can still hit your favorite water activity prepared with vigilance and an extra bag of baby safe gear.
- The first line of defense (for you and your baby) is natural sunscreen. Consult your doctor for products that work best for your baby’s age. Test a small patch of skin for an hour or so before you lather your little one from head to toe. Don’t put the sunscreen where you don’t need it. Use loose clothes to shield their body instead. Keep in mind that shade is truly your best defense and it makes sense to avoid full sun extensively during peak hours (approx. 10am-4 pm).
- Accustom your baby to loose hats before you hit the outdoors full force. Avoid fits and make a game of picking from 2 to 3 fun choices. Elastic or tie-strings fasten best on windy days.
- Pack plenty of age appropriate beverages (water, juice, properly stored breast milk) and hydrating food if your baby is old enough to nosh. Watermelon, peaches or applesauce help replenish fluids.
- Gear your baby safely when it is time to cool off in the water. Even if your baby looks like a football player because of attached flotation devices--fasten your hand to your baby as if you’re glued together. Inner tubes can flip them upside-down underwater, swimmies can deflate and life-vests don’t necessarily keep their face out of the water.
- If you have a play pool at home clean the water daily. Just because you can't see it growing doesn't mean it's not there.
Although strenuous hikes and gourmet picnics may be out of reach for family outings, you can still enjoy variations of outdoor summer fun with your little one.
- A sandbox, under constant supervision, is a hands-on activity that older babies enjoy. Do a quick danger search before hopping into the sand. Unfortunately, black widows have a special hankering for sandy hiding places. And, cats, have another “special use” for the soft granules!
- You can still hit the trails for a brief nature hike. Replace your backpack with a front carrier for your baby. Bring along hydrating goodies, natural insect repellant and a cell-phone. If you plan to sit and enjoy the view, pre-arm yourself with knowledge of poisonous plants. Foxglove, wisteria, elderberry, poison oaks, ivy and sumac are just a few to be on the lookout for.
- If you plan to let your baby help in the garden for outdoor fun, also be aware of seeds and roots that may be poisonous. Cabbage and broccoli are two surprising varieties.
- When you hit the park, opt for long pants or test the heat of the swing or slide.
- If you’re traveling with a mobile baby, don’t forget to pack your safety devices--outlet covers, baby gate etc. Be sure to pull all chairs from deck and balcony edges.
Keep these tips in mind and enjoy a safe summer exploring through your baby‘s eyes! Nothing beats it.